Council had a full plate in front of them for the July 21 meeting, but were able to keep it under three hours before adjourning for the evening.
The meeting started with an informative presentation by Dr. Mark Luther of the USF College of Marine Sciences. His presentation explained the water quality monitoring project at Clam Bayou and the solar powered equipment used to monitor meteorological elements.
Gulfport Neighbor’s own Margaret Tober gave a presentation of her own, thanking the city and its residents for all they have done for projects around town. The volunteer-run organization and has seen its social media following nearly triple in the last year, according to Tober, and holds about 25 events annually. Tober was excited to announce the second annual Mayor’s 49th Street Cleanup schedule for October 3 at the Tangerine Greenway. The cleanup aims to break down the barrier 49th Street creates between Gulfport and St. Petersburg.
“We shouldn’t be divided,” Tober said. “There should not be an invisible line up and down 49th Street.”
Public Works Director Don Sopak gave a presentation outlining the sanitary sewer evaluation survey, which showed all the work being done and that will be done on the city’s aging sewer system. The current sewer system was constructed in 1959.
Following public comments, council got to work on passing several ordinances, starting with the vacation of the right-of-way located between 51st Street South and 52nd Street South, north of 8th Avenue South.
Council continued their discussion on the foreclosure registry ordinance. Council members agreed to revisit the revised ordinance and continue discussion during the next meeting.
A hot-button item for many was the resolution for council to approve a special event license to the 49th Street South Business Association, allowing them to hold a Saturday morning market beginning in August.
Council tabled the discussion last meeting, but revisited the decision on Tuesday.
The discussion was met with opposition by the Gulfport Merchants Association, citing that a competing market could hurt the Tuesday market located downtown.
“Non-competitiveness is appreciated,” said GMA president, Lori Rosso.
Rosso expressed her concern that if there is a reduction in vendors or attendees, it would reduce the amount of money the market gives back to the city.
But council unanimously decided that business competition should be alive and well in Gulfport and approved the application for the 49th Street South Business Association to hold a market on Saturdays.
“I said it all last week. I understand the GMA’s situation, but at the same time the 49th Street market on Saturday is a totally different situation; it’s a different day of the week,” Councilmember Michael Fridovich said.
“If we let one group do this, I don’t see how we can say ‘No’ to another group without saying ‘OK, nobody gets to do it,’” Mayor Sam Henderson said. “I feel like it’s an unreasonable request.”
Council quickly and unanimously passed several other ordinances such as allowing O’Maddy’s Bar and Grille to close down 54th Street for the Gecko Crawl, a pub crawl that will convene at O’Maddy’s Bar and Grille, and passed a special event request for Gulfport Neighbors 49th Street Clean Up.
The Gulfport Police Department benefited from council’s unanimous decision to allow the city manager to use contraband forfeiture trust funds to purchase the Gulfport Police Department new body cameras. The department has been using body cameras for five years, but their current cameras are not compatible with data storing software. Current cameras will be traded in to offset the cost of the new ones.
Council closed out the meeting with electing Councilmember Christine Brown to represent Gulfport as the voting delegate in this year’s Florida League of Cities conference. Brown was also the delegate in last year’s conference.